Tall, dark and handsome meets adorable and fluffy — this is Dr. Evan Antin and his cast of patients from around the world, who range from exotic birds to cuddly rabbits.
Antin is an Instagram star, now with more than 1.2 million followers. He’s also got a YouTube following of over 32,000 subscribers. But first and foremost, he’s a California veterinarian with a deep love for all animals and a passion for conservation.
Last year, he was dubbed “America’s Sexiest Veterinarian” by Forbes. But Antin says he doesn’t want his looks to get in the way of his real message.
“I try to stay in shape and healthy and whatever. But, like, I just love what I do…here's the thing, if it helps me get to do what I love to do, then so be it,” he told ABC News’ Maggie Rulli. “Spreading awareness for wildlife conservation and showing what vet medicine is all about…trying to educate people about animals in general.”
Today, the 34-year-old is traveling the globe for his Animal Planet show, “Evan Goes Wild,” and sharing his medical skills in underserved communities and remote areas around the world with little to no veterinary health care — all in the name of animal conservation.
He says “it’s a dream come true.”
“It's me getting to work with wildlife around the world and spread wildlife conservation and awareness. And I'm a vet, so I get to work on individual animals and share their stories,” he said. “I've been working towards having a show with…this theme for years — for, you know, like 13 years.”
“I get to share things…with my audience that they might not have known about,” he added. “They might not have realized the plight of the penguin or certain shark species or the loris or whatever. Like, all these different animals we work with, they don't know their stories.”
Antin said that being a veterinarian is his “calling.”
“I love the sciences. I love medicine and surgery. Obviously animals are a huge part of my life and something I'm passionate about,” he said. “I know this is what I [was put] on this Earth to be doing.”
That includes dealing with dangerous animals and situations, especially on his show where he gets up close and personal with everything from whales to bearcats to elephants.
“I work with a lot of dangerous animals, and I have a healthy respect for those animals,” he said. “There are moments when I work with wildlife, and even on the show, where...we have some close calls and it's a reality check.”
The scarier thing, he said, are the realities lived by animals around the planet that he's witnessed.
“It seems like sometimes it's [a] fight…for conservation against poaching and littering and pollution and climate change and everything seems futile. Even I feel that sometimes,” Antin said. “But when you see these people that are so passionate about it, and they devote their lives, their income, their time, their everything...to helping wildlife and domestics around the world. I think that sparks passion in people.”
He hopes to inspire viewers to take conservation into their own hands.
“There's simple things that everybody can do to help conserve wildlife,” he said. “I mean, just being a responsible consumer helps [conserve] wildlife. You know, try to avoid straws and, you know, really single-serving plastics in general, not just straws. Think about what you're buying and where you're buying it.”
Antin said he takes his growing fame in stride — all for the love of animals — and that people will occasionally stop him in public, mistaking him for Henry Cavill or complimenting him on his Instagram.
But true fans already know he is off the market. “Nightline” had a chance to meet the whole family, including the woman who’s been supporting his dream from the very beginning, his lovely fiancée, Nathalie Basha.
The two met 13 years ago on a cruise ship.
“We actually talked about what we each wanted to do. He very specifically said he was so inspired by people like Steve Irwin and Jeff Corwin...we had a mutual love for both of them,” Basha said.
“He even said he wanted it to be on Animal Planet,” Basha added. “And that's what he's doing now.”
Basha was there with Antin when he went through med school, and said it was "really tough."
"And then, you know, working in the hospital. He would work eight day shifts, and he'd work overnights. But it was always for this goal. It was always for a bigger goal. So it was just like… naturally this is of course, this is what you're gonna do next.”
She’s all in on his mission to help save the planet.
“I'm proud that he has built this platform and that he uses it for such a good purpose, and people listen to him,” she said. “I think it's a really amazing, wonderful part of this, like, world of technology that we live in.”